Theatrical release poster
|Directed by|| Dave Fleischer |
|Produced by||Max Fleischer|
|Written by|| Dan Gordon |
|Starring|| Pinto Colvig |
|Music by|| Victor Young |
Leo Robin (songs)
Ralph Rainger (songs)
Al Neiburg (songs)
Winston Sharples (songs)
Sammy Timberg (songs)
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$3.27 million|
Gulliver's Travels is a 1939 American cel-animated Technicolor feature film produced by Max Fleischer and directed by Dave Fleischer for Fleischer Studios. Released to cinemas in the United States on December 22, 1939by Paramount Pictures, the story is a very loose adaptation of Jonathan Swift's 18th century novel of the same name, specifically the first part which tells the story of Lilliput and Blefuscu, and centers around an explorer who helps a small kingdom who declared war after an argument over a wedding song. The film was the Fleischer Studios' first feature-length animated film, as well as the second animated feature film produced by an American studio after Walt Disney Productions' Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , as Paramount had commissioned the feature in response to the success of that film. The sequences for the film were directed by Seymour Kneitel, Willard Bowsky, Tom Palmer, Grim Natwick, William Henning, Roland Crandall, Thomas Johnson, Robert Leffingwell, Frank Kelling, Winfield Hoskins, and Orestes Calpini.
On November 5, 1699, Lemuel Gulliver washes onto the beach of Lilliput after a storm at sea and ultimate shipwreck. Following the calm of the storm, the town crier Gabby stumbles across Gulliver in terror and rushes back to Lilliput to warn King Little of a "giant on the beach". But Little and King Bombo of Blefescu are signing a wedding contract between their children, Princess Glory and Prince David of Blefuscu, respectively. All is fine until an argument starts over which national anthem is to be played at the wedding. The argument cancels the wedding and starts a war.
After several failures, Gabby tells King Little of the "giant", and leads a mob to the beach to capture him. There, the Lilliputians tie Gulliver to a wagon on which they convey him to the capital. In the next morning, Gulliver awakens and breaks himself free; but when they see that the invading Blefuscuians are intimidated by his size, the Lilliputians enlist his help against their neighbor, treating him with hospitality and making him a new set of clothes.
King Bombo, who has sent three spies, Sneak, Snoop, and Snitch, into Lilliput, orders them to kill Gulliver, whereupon the spies steal Gulliver's flintlock pistol, confiscated by the Lilliputians, and prepare to use it against him. Meanwhile, Gulliver learns of the war's cause from Glory and David, and proposes a new song that combines the two proposed by their fathers.
When the spies assure King Bombo that they can kill Gulliver, Bombo announces by carrier pigeon that he will attack at dawn. Gabby intercepts this message and warns the Lilliputians, but is himself captured by the spies and stuffed in a sack, before they prepare the pistol. As the Blefuscuian fleet approaches Lilliput, Gulliver ties them together and draws them disarmed to shore. The spies fire at Gulliver from a cliff, but Prince David diverts the shot and falls to his apparent death. Using David's body to illustrate his point, Gulliver scolds both Lilliput and Blefuscu for fighting; when they solemnize a truce, Gulliver reveals that David is unharmed, whereupon David and Glory sing their combined song for everyone to hear. The spies release Gabby from the sack. Both sides thereafter build a new ship for Gulliver on which he departs, and he sails off into the sunset on the ocean.
All of the songs were written by Leo Robin and composed by Ralph Rainger with the exception of "It's a Hap-Hap-Happy Day", which was written by Sammy Timberg, Al Neiburg and Winston Sharples.
The Gulliver's Travels score by Victor Young was nominated for a Best Original Score Academy Award while the song "Faithful/Forever" was nominated for Best Original Song, but both of them lost out to The Wizard of Oz with the film winning the latter category for the song "Over the Rainbow". "It's a Hap-Hap-Happy Day" and "All's Well" later became standard themes used for Fleischer and Famous Studios cartoon scores, while "I Hear a Dream" was quite popular as well.
Selections from the music score was released by Marco Polo Records in 1997 as part of "The Classic Film Music of Victor Young" album (alongside selected cues for the 1952 Oscar-winning film The Greatest Show on Earth , The Uninvited and Bright Leaf ).
Max Fleischer had envisioned a feature as early as 1934. But Paramount vetoed the idea based largely on their interests in maintaining financial solvency following their series of bankruptcy reorganizations. However, after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , Paramount wanted to duplicate the Disney success and ordered a feature for a 1939 Christmas release. When the story was first written in New York, Popeye the Sailor had originally been cast as Gulliver. This was scrapped, however, and the story was restructured once the West Coast team of Cal Howard, Tedd Pierce, and Edmond Seward came aboard (although Popeye would later be cast as a Gulliver-like character in an abridged version of the story called "Popeye's Travels", made for the 1960s Popeye the Sailor television show).
One of the major challenges for Fleischer Studios was the 18 month delivery envelope, coming at a time when Fleischer Studios was relocating to Miami, Florida. While Snow White was in production for 18 months, it had been in development for just as long, allowing for a total of three years to reach the screen. To meet this deadline, the Fleischer staff was greatly expanded to some 800 employees. Animation training classes were set up with Miami art schools as a conduit for additional workers. Experienced lead animators were lured from Hollywood studios, including Nelson Demorest, Joe D'Igalo, and former Fleischer Animators Grim Natwick, Al Eugster, and Shamus Culhane, who returned after working for the Walt Disney Studios.
Several West Coast techniques were introduced in order to provide better animation and greater personality in the characters. Some animators adapted while others did not. Pencil tests were unheard of in New York but were soon embraced as a tool for improving production methods. And while the majority of the characters were animated through conventional animation techniques, rotoscoping was used to animate Gulliver, Glory, and David. Sam Parker, the voice of Gulliver, also modeled for the live-action reference.
The rushed schedule seemed to take precedence over quality, and overtime was the order of the day. Even with the rush, deadlines were compromised with Paramount considering canceling the film. Relations with the Technicolor lab were strained due to these constant delays largely associated with the remote location of Miami.
Fleischer Studios delivered Gulliver for Paramount's planned Christmas release schedule, opening in New York on December 20, 1939, going into general release two days later. Considering the potential demonstrated in the two Popeye specials, Gulliver’s Travels lacked the built-in brand recognition of those shorts. This much-anticipated feature produced by Max Fleischer was still met with by an eager public and started out well, breaking box-office records in spite of the inevitable comparisons to Snow White.
Based on the overwhelming business success of Gulliver’s Travels in its opening run, Barney Balaban immediately ordered another feature for a 1941 Christmas release. In spite of running over the original budget, Paramount made a profit of at least $1,000,000 domestically.
The voice cast consisted of a variety of performers. The voice of Gabby was provided by Pinto Colvig, who had previously worked at Disney's. Colvig had previously been the voice of Goofy, provided vocal effects for Pluto, was the stern Practical Pig in The Three Little Pigs , and voiced Grumpy and Sleepy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Jack Mercer, who portrayed King Little of Lilliput, was a story man for Fleischer's who lent his voice the gruff Popeye the Sailor. In addition to voicing King Little, Mercer was also the voice behind Bombo's spies, Sneak, Snoop, and Snitch. Mercer was a regular voice heard in Fleischer and Famous Studios cartoons, and worked for Paramount until Famous Studios was dissolved. Jessica Dragonette and Lanny Ross were both popular singers of the day, and were hired to sing for Princess Glory and Prince David, respectively. Sam Parker was a radio announcer in the 1930s who won the role of Gulliver in a radio contest. When the Fleischers met Parker, they felt that his appearance was suitable for him to also perform in the live action footage that would be rotoscoped to create Gulliver's movement.Tedd Pierce was a story man hired away from Leon Schlesinger Productions to join Fleischer in their trip to Miami. Pierce, who would occasionally do voices for some of the characters in the cartoons, played King Bombo.
Like Snow White before it, Gulliver was a success at the box-office, earning $3.27 million in the United States during its original run, even as it was limited to fifty theaters during the 1939 Christmas season.This box-office success prompted a second feature to be ordered for a Christmas 1941 release Mr. Bug Goes to Town . Following its domestic run, Gulliver's Travels went into foreign release starting in February 1940.
In spite of the profits earned domestically and internationally, Paramount held Fleischer Studios to a $350,000 penalty for going over budget. This was the beginning of the financial difficulties Fleischer Studios encountered as it entered the 1940s.
When the Fleischer film library was sold to television in 1955, Gulliver's Travels was included and became a local television station holiday film shown during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. It was also re-released theatrically in Technicolor prints for Saturday matinee children's programs well into the mid 1960s.
Due to the film's public domain status, it has been released by many distributors in various home video formats. E1 Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray Disc on March 10, 2009, but received strong criticism for presenting the movie in a stretched and cropped 1.75:1 format, as well as applying heavy noise reduction.In March 2014, Thunderbean Animation released a superior restored version of the film with several Fleischer Studios shorts in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack titled Fleischer Classics Featuring Gulliver's Travels.
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards:
Each lost both to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's The Wizard of Oz .
The film was spun off into two short-lived Fleischer cartoon short series: the Gabby series and the Animated Antics cartoons starring the three spies, Sneak, Snoop and Snitch and Twinkletoes (the carrier pigeon).
Fleischer Studios was an American corporation that originated as an animation studio located at 1600 Broadway, New York City, New York. It was founded in 1921 as Out of the Inkwell, inc. by brothers Max Fleischer and Dave Fleischer who ran the pioneering company from its inception until Paramount Pictures, the studio's parent company and the distributor of its films, acquired ownership. In its prime, Fleischer Studios was a premier producer of animated cartoons for theaters, with Walt Disney Productions becoming its chief competitor in the 1930s.
Max Fleischer was an American animator, inventor, film director and producer, and studio founder and owner. Born in Kraków, Fleischer immigrated to the US where he became a pioneer in the development of the animated cartoon and served as the head of Fleischer Studios, which he co-founded with his younger brother Dave. He brought such animated characters as Koko the Clown, Betty Boop, Popeye, and Superman to the movie screen, and was responsible for a number of technological innovations, including the Rotoscope, the "Bouncing Ball" song films, and the "Stereoptical Process". Film director Richard Fleischer was his son.
Winfield B. Mercer, professionally known as Jack Mercer, was a prolific American voice actor, animator and writer. He is best known as the voice of cartoon characters Popeye the Sailor and Felix the Cat. The son of vaudeville and Broadway performers, he also performed on the vaudeville and legitimate stage.
Lilliput and Blefuscu are two fictional island nations that appear in the first part of the 1726 novel Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. The two islands are neighbours in the South Indian Ocean, separated by a channel 800 yards (730 m) wide. Both are inhabited by tiny people who are about one-twelfth the height of ordinary human beings. Both kingdoms are empires, i.e. realms ruled by a self-styled emperor. The capital of Lilliput is Mildendo. In some pictures, the islands are arranged like an egg, as a reference to their egg-dominated histories and cultures.
The Fleischer Superman cartoons are a series of seventeen animated short films released in Technicolor by Paramount Pictures and based upon the comic book character Superman, making them his first animated appearance.
Famous Studios was the first animation division of the film studio Paramount Pictures from 1942 to 1967. Famous was founded as a successor company to Fleischer Studios, after Paramount seized control of the aforementioned studio and ousted its founders, Max and Dave Fleischer, in 1941. The studio's productions included three series started by the Fleischers—Popeye the Sailor, Superman, and Screen Songs—as well as Little Audrey, Little Lulu, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Honey Halfwitch, Herman and Katnip, Baby Huey, and the anthology Noveltoons series.
David Fleischer was an American film director and producer, best known as a co-owner of Fleischer Studios with his older brother Max Fleischer. He was a native of New York City.
Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp is a two-reel animated cartoon short subject in the Popeye Color Specials series, produced in Technicolor and released to theaters on April 7, 1939, by Paramount Pictures. It was produced by Max Fleischer, and directed by Dave Fleischer for Fleischer Studios, Inc., with David Tendlar serving as head animator, and music being supervised by Sammy Timberg. The voice of Popeye is performed by Jack Mercer, with additional voices by Margie Hines as Olive Oyl and Carl Meyer as the evil Wazzir.
Mr. Bug Goes to Town is an American cel-animated Technicolor feature film produced by Fleischer Studios, previewed by Paramount Pictures on December 5, 1941, and released in California and New York City in February 1942.
Samuel Timberg was an American musician and composer for the stage, movie studios, and television.
Gabby was a Max Fleischer animated cartoon series distributed through Paramount Pictures. Gabby debuted as the town crier in the 1939 animated feature Gulliver’s Travels produced by Fleischer. Shortly afterward Paramount and Fleischer gave Gabby his own Technicolor spinoff cartoon series, eight entries of which were produced between 1940 and 1941. Gabby was voiced by Pinto Colvig, the voice of Walt Disney's Goofy, and Grumpy and Sleepy from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Seymour Kneitel was an American animator. He is best known for his work with Fleischer Studios and its successor, Famous Studios.
Isadore "Izzy" Sparber was an American storyboard artist, writer, director and producer of animated films. He is best known for his work with Fleischer Studios and its successor, Famous Studios. When credited, his work appeared under varying versions of his name, including "Izzy Sparber," "I. Sparber," "Irving Sparber," and "Isidore Sparber" or "Isadore Sparber."
Nicholas "Nick" Tafuri was an American animator who worked primarily for the Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios, most prolifically in the animation unit headed by Myron Waldman. With the exception of a few years in Miami with the Fleischers, Tafuri worked exclusively for studios based in New York City.
Popeye the Sailor is an American animated series of comedy short films based on the titular comic strip character created by E. C. Segar. In 1933, Max and Dave Fleischer's Fleischer Studios adapted Segar's characters into a series of Popeye the Sailor theatrical cartoon shorts for Paramount Pictures. The plotlines in the animated cartoons tended to be simpler than those presented in the comic strips, and the characters slightly different. A villain, usually Bluto, makes a move on Popeye's "sweetie," Olive Oyl. The villain clobbers Popeye until he eats spinach, giving him superhuman strength. Thus empowered, Popeye the sailor makes short work of the villain.
Popeye the Sailor: 1941–1943, Volume 3 is the third volume in a series of DVD by Warner Archive Collection released by Warner Home Video collecting, in chronological order, the theatrical Popeye cartoons originally distributed by Paramount Pictures. This two-disc DVD set was released on November 4, 2008.
Winston Singleton Sharples was an American composer known for his work with animated short subjects, especially those created by the animation department at Paramount Pictures. In his 35-year career, Sharples scored more than 700 cartoons for Paramount and Famous Studios, and composed music for two Frank Buck films, Wild Cargo (1934) and Fang and Claw (1935).
Animated Antics was an animated cartoon series produced by the Fleischer Studios from 1939 through 1941, and distributed through Paramount Pictures.
The year 1972 in animation involved some events.
The cultural influence of Gulliver's Travels has spanned centuries.
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